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How Greg Abbott wants to restrict voting

More from that Trib story following the State of the State address.

As part of his State of the State speech, Abbott designated five emergency items, or items that lawmakers can vote on within the first 60 days of session. One of them is “election integrity,” though Abbott did not provide any details in his address. He elaborated in the interview, saying a “starting point” would be wide-ranging legislation from last session that would have made over two dozen changes to election practices, including making it a felony for Texans to vote when they’re ineligible or provide false information on a voter application, even if they do those things unknowingly.

Senate Bill 9, which passed the Senate but never made it to Abbott’s desk in 2019, faced stiff opposition from voting rights groups and some county elections officials, who called it voter suppression masked as a security measure and worried that it would carry stiff criminal penalties for common, innocent mistakes.

When it came to elections, Abbott also said there is a “keen focus on mail-in ballots” and how elections were conducted last year in Harris County. Ahead of the November election, Abbott and other state GOP leaders clashed with the county’s clerk at the time, Chris Hollins, over his plan to send a mail-in ballot application to every registered voters in the county, among other proposals.

In recent months, many Republicans have called for “election integrity” measures after former President Donald Trump and many of his allies falsely alleged that the 2020 election was stolen from him and that widespread fraud occurred, culminating with Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to stop the certification of the election’s results. There is no credible evidence of fraud on a level that would have affected the presidential election results.

Election security is the No. 1 legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas, whose chairman, Allen West, plans to be an aggressive voice at the Capitol this session when it comes to the party’s eight priorities. He has also been a critic of some of Abbott’s pandemic decisions, fueling speculation that he could challenge the governor in the 2022 primary.

See here for the discussion of emergency powers. I just want to remind everybody that back in 2011 when the Republicans passed the existing voter ID bill, which remains one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country, they specifically exempted absentee ballots from voter ID requirements. Why did they do that? The simple answer to that question is that voting by mail used to be an area of Republican dominance, and the Republican legislators did not want to make it any harder for their preferred voters to cast a ballot. But now that Democrats have started voting by mail in larger numbers, all bets are off. That is the reason they’re doing this, all claims of “election integrity” aside, and it annoys me that I never see any mention of that in news stories about this. Voting by mail used to advantage Republicans. Now it doesn’t, and so Republicans want to make it harder. It’s as simple as that, and the same crap is happening all across the country. All of us, the media very much included, need to be clear-eyed about that.

In case that doesn’t set your teeth on edge enough, there’s this.

With Texas’ Republican leadership cataloguing “election integrity” as a top priority this legislative session, House Speaker Dade Phelan on Thursday named state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, as the chair of the House Elections Committee. The panel, which has a Republican majority, typically considers legislation related to voting rules and election law.

Cain, who previously served on the committee, traveled to Pennsylvania in the days after Election Day to work with the Trump campaign. The campaign eventually filed a lawsuit alleging widespread issues with mail-in ballots in the state; a federal judge threw out the lawsuit, finding the president’s team provided “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were not supported by evidence.

Republican claims of election fraud in swing states have been discredited by the federal courts, and election officials and former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr have said there was no evidence of widespread fraud that could have swayed the results of the presidential election.

[…]

“I’m looking forward to getting input from Texans, members, and policy experts in order to better gauge what needs to be done,” Cain said on Thursday when asked about his priorities for the committee. “I believe SB 9 is great starting point though and I’m glad the Governor made election integrity an emergency item.”

Voting rights advocates on Thursday decried Cain’s appointment given his involvement with the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn the election and the role it played in fueling the Jan. 6 deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Cain was so invested in undermining our free and fair elections that he took his conspiracy theories on the road to fight against the will of Pennsylvania voters,” said H. Drew Galloway, the executive director of the MOVE Texas Action Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for young voters. “This appointment is a slap in the face to every Texas voter who braved a pandemic to make their voices heard last November and the generations of Black and Brown activists who have fought for the right to vote.”

Democrats are not going to be able to stop any of this on their own, and the courts are hardly allies in this fight. Either Congress acts to pass that massive voting rights bill and we get some relief, or we better get used to ever-ratcheting restrictions on who can vote and how. There’s no time to waste. The DMN has more.

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12 Comments

  1. brad says:

    Republicans on “Election Integrity”….Lying Liars and the Lies they tell.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    The USPS is replacing the gang mailboxes in my hood, so I’ll have to go down to the Post Office to get my mail, and get the new key for my box. You know what I’ll be required to present in order to get that key and mail? A valid Texas ID.

    So, in order to receive mail, I’ll have to show an ID, but in order to VOTE, leftists have the vapors if anyone wants to ask prospective voters for ID. Integrity, indeed.

  3. Lobo says:

    A valid Texas ID required to pick up mail?

    Is that true? — It would seem that the U.S. Postal Service, as a federal institution, should accept federal forms of ID.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Lobo,

    I suspect that you are right, that a federal ID that includes a person’s name and address would be acceptable. I’m headed out to the P.O. this morning, so I’ll ask, and report back on what they say is acceptable, as a public service to the OTK crowd.

  5. @BillDaniels … presumably, were you younger, that valid Texas ID would include a college photo ID that the Texas GOP wingnuts refuse to accept for voting.

    #fify

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Socratic,

    Since colleges not only accept foreign students, both visa holding, and outright illegal aliens, a college ID shouldn’t be acceptable to vote. All a college ID proves is that someone is a student, not that they are eligible to vote in America.

    I’m headed out to the Post Office right now. I’ll ask if a college ID is acceptable to get a mailbox key and/or my mail. BRB

  7. voter_worker says:

    This may have implications for anyone who has submitted a non-residential address on their voter registration application.

  8. @BillDaniels: Ill Eagles have gotten Texas DLs, and other aspects of the voter ID idea have long been discussed. And you know that. #fail (or, I was born at night, but not last night; what bout you?)

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    Lobo, my Texas drivers license is a real ID, which complies with the real ID law, and is acceptable for any purpose in the nation. Your drivers license should be, as well, unless it is very near expiration. If so, your new license will be real ID compliant.

  10. Bill Daniels says:

    Status update: The counter guy says I’m the umpteenth person from my subdivision to come in and request mail. The short answer is, no, we can’t have our mail, and I was told we’ll be able to get it/access our new boxes sometime next week, but no one knows what day that might be. There also seems to be some hush hush key distribution plan, but they didn’t really want to explain it to me right there either. Since there was a line behind me, I didn’t ask what the acceptable ID forms were, so that’s TBA.

  11. Manny says:

    Inbreeding must make people lie all the time, Bill cluster mailboxes are not owned by USPS;

    Many Postal Service™ customers have centrally located, or cluster, mailboxes that all residents of their apartment, townhouse, condominium, or housing complex use. Using these handy tips and tags will help the Postal Service to provide you with an accurate and uninterrupted mail delivery service.

    https://about.usps.com/notices/not11/not11.htm

  12. Bill Daniels says:

    Update II:

    I finally got keys to my new USPS OWNED AND MAINTAINED community mailbox, and there was a whole bunch of mail in it waiting for me.

    I had to show a government issued ID card with picture to get the mail, and it had to have my address on it. So, no student ID card, no voter registration card, no non governmental ID, not even a passport or TWIC card…..government issued with address and picture.

    So that’s what it takes to get mail, but it’s unreasonable and racist to expect a voter to present ID to vote.